Mycelia – A New Magazine for New Weird Fiction

I have had this magazine in my possession for a number of weeks now, but have only managed to have the time to read about half of the contents of the first issue. I had hoped to review the whole thing, but at the rate I’m going it’ll be some time before I can do that.

I’m not exactly sure how I came across this, I think it was mentioned somewhere on Goodreads (which I very recently signed up to and am still getting used to). I decided to buy the two issues that have been released to see what it was all about and it’s already quite interesting.

Mycelia (published by Hedera Felix in Glasgow) describes itself as “a new biannual print magazine in Scotland for weird fiction, experimental literature and art.” From what I have read so far this is an accurate description. The first few stories (they are all quite short) cover a wide range of styles and subjects which can be classified as weird. Below is a photograph of both Issue 1 and Issue 2.

The first story features what I assume to be a genetically engineered sub-human/dog-like creature, another one concerns a boyfriend who has vegetative aspects which don’t seem to concern his partner, another is a hard Science Fiction story and another which is more old-school weird. It was this one which has been my favourite so far. It’s called ‘To Keep The Cold Away’ and is written by Daniel Pietersen. After inheriting a collection of netsuke (small Japanese carved ornaments to be worn with a kimono) the protagonist becomes strangely connected to them. It’s not quite clear, but either they wither and change physically causing the character to do the same, or she does first and they take on the change. Traditionally in this type of story there would be a curse or spiritual connection, maybe a pining for the original collector, but that is not evident here, which moves the story from the Gothic to the Weird.

There are a number of interesting photographs dotted throughout the magazine, some of which remind me of Surrealism. I particularly liked the two photographs by David Redford Palmer. I’m not sure if they have been manipulated or not; they are of natural subjects (a tree in one and cloud in another) but they possess a mood, a darkness, even a sense of dread. I would like to see more.

There is an odd almalgam of stories with a recurring seagull motif that seem to be trying too hard to be arty in a weird way. If there is a criticism of Mycelia, it would be that it tries too hard to be arty or experimental, to the point of complete abstraction and this can leaves one unable to make the slightest sense of it (but I guess that’s just weird in another way).

I’m assuming that the name Mycelia comes from the word Mycelium, which is quite appropriate. This is how it is described by Wikipedia:-

Mycelium is the vegetative part of a fungus or fungus-like bacterial colony, consisting of a mass of branching, thread-like hyphae. The mass of hyphae is sometimes called shiro, especially within the fairy ring fungi. Fungal colonies composed of mycelium are found in and on soil and many other substrates.

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If the rest of Issue 1 and the second Issue continue in this vein then I look forward to reading more in the future – who knows, I may even submit a few photos or stories – it’s certainly something worth supporting!

You can obtain a copy of Mycelia by visiting their shop, here, and you can use a discount code at the checkout to reduce the cost (it’s why I decided to buy both Issues!), the code is – SUMMER2019. You can also buy a copy at one of their stockists:-

Category Is, Glasgow
Good Press Gallery, Glasgow
Aye-Aye Books, CCA, Glasgow
Fruitmarket Gallery Bookshop, Edinburgh
Golden Hare Books, Edinburgh
Whitechapel Gallery Bookshop, London
Serpentine Gallery Bookshop, London
Coming soon to Book Art Bookshop in Hoxton, London!

Photographs by Oleg Oprisco

In my previous post I noted that for me an interesting photograph needs to be either beautiful of odd (or both, of course).  Because of the immeasurable amount of images we see on a daily basis, often without even consciously recognising them, a photograph needs to grab the attention of the viewer in a striking way and different photographers approach this problem in vastly different ways.  I like to find the out of place or an unusual composition that is there without my interference, so I rely on my sensibility in seeing things in a particular way – a photographic equivalent of the ready-made.  Other photographers like to be more in control and create their visions through meticulous staging.  One such photographer is the Ukranian Oleg Oprisco who creates perfectly composed dream-like scenes which combine the jarring unreality of surrealism with the romance of the fairytale in equal measure.

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There is something quite endearing about the absurd, it appeals to a many people on many different levels – it’s why Surrealism is one of the few ever-popular modern art movements.  When the out of place or unexpected is observed in our everyday world it can illuminate what was previously mundane or taken for granted.  By causing surprise or humor the Surreal or out of place can wake us up to appreciating everyday objects again and hopefully casue a ripple in our increasingly ordered lives.

I took this photograph a few years ago while out walking by the sea – two boys were playing on a washed up wreck of a boat and had obviously got their trousers wet.  It was a warm day and they had draped them over the edge of the tilted boat to dry them in the sunshine – the effects was quite unexpected and distinctly Surreal.

The other photo can be found on my Flickr page here.

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